Svend Andersen was born and raised in Denmark, but relocated to Switzerland to study watchmaking in 1963. He spent five years at Gubelin, but he was frustrated because he was unable to sufficiently flex his creative muscles. He was told, “You are not here to invent.”1 So he left Gubelin to work on a project of his own: a clock in a bottle. Over the course of five months, Andersen assembled and regulated a clock inside a bottle, the mouth of which was just 0.75 inches (18mm) wide!2
This project earned him some great publicity, including being published in Popular Mechanics magazine in 1970. In addition to the publicity, this project earned Andersen the nickname “Watchmaker of the Impossible” and landed him a job at the complications department at Patek Philippe. He was at Patek for nine years, then in 1979 he set up his own independent workshop. (As a side note, both Franck Muller and URWERK’s Felix Baumgartner worked at Andersen’s atelier early in their careers).
The late 1970s and early 1980s saw Andersen bombarded by requests for vintage restorations as well as new bespoke watches. In addition, the watch industry also sought out Andersen for new calibers. It was then in 1985 that Andersen, along with his friend and fellow independent watchmaker Vincent Calabrese, decided to form the AHCI: Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants, an association with the mission to perpetuate the art of independent watch and clock-making.
Andersen has made more than 100 custom timepieces in his career. His innovations have gotten him into the Guinness book of World Records for making the world’s smallest calendar watch, and again for making the first perpetual secular calendar.
“Ninety percent of my inspiration comes from people asking if something is possible. I never say no, I will always think about it.” – Svend Andersen.1
1 – The Hands of Time by Ian Skellern.
2 – http://quillandpad.com/2016/03/08/worldtimers-erotic-watches-and-poker-playing-dogs-a-h-c-i-co-founder-svend-andersen-has-semi-retired-but-his-brand-lives-on/